English 4903 Jane Austen

Jane Austen Image

General Library Information

John Vaughan Library Physical Overview CLIP Tutorial
Library of Congress Classification system.
The Research Strategies CLIP tutorial can provide an overview to getting started in researching a topic.

Finding a Work of Fiction

The Library Catalog is used to find full-length novels.  Do an author search on Jane Austen, entering last name first. Look for Norton Critical editions which contain criticism with the work.

Defining Terms

Ref. PN 41.H36 1992       Dictionary of Concepts in Literary  Criticism and Theory
Ref. PE 1625.O87 1991   Oxford English Dictionary.  (Gives the etymology of words)
Ref. PN 41.H6                 A Handbook to Literature (Defines literary terms)


Ref. EQ 677.R52 2000b The Annals of London
Ref. PR 19.B5 1992     Bloomsbury Guide to English Literature
Ref. PR DA 480.B75 1997  Britain in the Hanoverian Age, 1714-1837
Ref. PR 87.R851 1968b Chronological Outlines of English Literature
Ref. PR 19.D73 1985   Oxford Companion to English  Literature
Ref. PR 56.B34            A Research Guide for Undergraduate Students: English and American Literature

Cycle of Information

The cycle of information is an interesting one.  Research starts with an idea.  Someone becomes curious about something and wants to explore it.  Literature reviews are conducted, empirical evidence is gathered.  The researcher may wish to cross disciplinary lines and take a literary theory and apply it to another field.  The researcher writes an article.  If the article adds to the body of knowledge or presents a new concept, a journal in that discipline might be interested in publishing it. Article submissions go through a reviewing process in which multiple reviewers will read and comment on the article.  This is an example of a refereed journal article. If it passes the review process, the article is published in the journal.  Indexers read journal articles and assign subject headings to the articles and place the citation in indexes (such as MLA Bibliography).  Researchers comb indexes to find articles, and the whole cycle starts over.  This is a cycle that occurs right here at NSU.  Our faculty and students are publishing.  You can become a part of the process, too. Exciting, isn't it?

The Flow of Information (from the UCLA College Library and NWACC) depicts how information about an event can be represented in different types of resources. Understanding how information is disseminated helps to know where to look and the attributes of each format.

General Concepts

When approaching a database, look for help screens for complete information on how to search it effectively.  Check for scope notes that identify the contents of the database.  Check for advanced search screens and see different ways that the search can be limited.  For instance, what dates and types of materials are included in the database? Can it be searched by full text and subject?  Can the search be limited by date, language or full text? Each database uses controlled subject headings that can be accessed through the online Thesaurus.  For instance, in ERIC, writing centers are called writing laboratories.

Locating Literary Criticism

Digests, Synopses, Author Biographies

Biography and Genealogy Master Index Useful database when it is unknown what biographical source to use
Ref. PN 451.D32   Dictionary of Literary Biography volume 116
MagillOnLiterature Plus  Contains fulltext of author biographies, summaries of works, and basic criticism.

The Library Catalog will provide a list of print and electronic books available on Austen. Use the Library Catalog to find full-length biographies and criticisms of Austen. Do a subject search on Austen's last name. Go to the "Sort" button and sort by reverse year.  Examples of books include an encyclopedia about Austen and books on the historical Austen. WorldCat is a wonderful database which lists all published resources (Not specific journal articles, but books, facsimile editions, AV, dissertations, etc.) Interlibrary Loan is available for books and journal articles not available at NSU.  Use the databases listed in the next section to find biographical articles about Jane Austen.

Criticisms on Specific Works

Would you like to find an article such as the one listed below?
"I am Elizabeth Bennett"

The following databases are useful for research on authors and specific works. Search by the author's last name and an important word from the title of the work.  You can also include a particular aspect.  For instance, if searching for articles about Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, try searching <austen and elizabeth>  
Note:  In EbscoHost the * is a truncation symbol which will look for romantic, romantics, romanticism, etc.

Humanities Full Text
MLA Bibliography

There are also literary explictors that indicate where criticisms can be found, in either books or journals, on specific works.

Ref. PR 821.P26                 English Novel Explication
Ref. PN 523.M25              Magill's Bibliography of Literary Criticism (volume 1)

Reserve Materials

Dr. Wilcox has placed some books on Reserve.  Reserve is located on the first floor of the library in the northeast corner.  Ask for materials by course number, professor, and title of work.  Also located at Reserve are several movies based on Jane Austen's works.  Several are in processing and will be available in about two weeks (September 15, 2006).

Internet Resources

Of course, there are many resources available through the Web. The librarian for the department has created the English page which lists some useful Web sites. The Eserver is a very good English Web site. The library provides a list of search engines. (Try the library's Google: When and How to Use It and Google Tips and Tricks tutorials.) Search the following Web pages for interesting resources:  The Internet Public Library and Librarians' Index to the Internet.

Jane Austen Information Page

Cross Disciplinary Sources

Whether researching literary topics or other fields in English, it is important to remember to look outside the field for information.  Historical materials are useful and can be found in books and articles using such databases as Academic Search Premier and Humanities Full Text.   Other useful disciplines can include psychology, religion, and philosophy.

Evaluating Sources

With all resources, it is important to assess the quality of what you find.  Use the following checklist to assist with that determination:

1. Identify the author(s) and determine his/her credentials.  Does the author have a degree in the field; is the author a professor; does the author have other works published on similar topics?
2. What is the date of the publication?  Currency is important in most fields.  It is especially important for Web pages.
3. Does the publisher have a good reputation?  Is the resource published by a professional association or university press?  Is the journal refereed? For Web sites, check the URL to determine the sponsor.  Gov sites are government sites; com are commercial; edu are educational.
4. How do the critics perceive the work?  Are there reviews available?
5. Is the material complete?  Does it have an index, bibliography. Is it well written with few grammatical or spelling errors?
6. Is the language slanted or biased?
7. Does it include references to well known facts or research studies?
8. For Web pages, do the links work? 

Citing Sources

To avoid plagiarism, it is important to cite materials correctly. Indiana University has a good guide on plagiarism. To cite the resources that you've found, check the Citation Clip tutorial. The M.L.A. Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is located on the first floor of the library, Ready Ref. LB 2369.G53.  Also, try the MLA Web site.

    SophiaBeverley Threatt, MLS, MA
    Instructor of Library Services
    Languages and Literature and Communication, Art, & Theatre
    Resource Coordinator
    (918) 444-3267

Page maintained by: SB Threatt
Last Updated: 08/02/2012